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Saturday, June 07, 2014

Modi moves closer to the political centre

As the election to the 16th Lok Sabha moves towards its culmination on May 16th, when counting begins and the results will be apparent in quick time, the frontrunner for the PM's job, Narendra Modi, is making his policy positions clearer and moving distinctly towards the centre of the political spectrum.
In a slew of interviews given to regional, vernacular and wire-services media, Modi has adopted a prime ministerial stance, emphasising balance and consensus over right-wing posturing.
In a recent interview, even while affirming his "Hinduness" he insisted that he was an Indian first.
In another interview to a news channel, Modi said the government was run according to the Constitution of the country and not the ideology of any outfit (read RSS).
Moderation
In a similar vein is his rebuke to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for going public on the issue of dealing with Dawood Ibrahim.
Responding to questions about Shinde's statement that India will bring back Dawood from Pakistan, Modi told a Gujarati TV channel: "Can such things be achieved through media. Are these things to be revealed through newspapers…Did America hold a press conference on its plans about tracking down Bin Laden?"
He added pointedly: "They don't have minimum maturity. I am ashamed that the Home Minister made such statements."
Equally insistent has been Modi's effort to dampen the hawks on the issue of nuclear policy. The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) 2014 election manifesto promised to study "in detail" India's nuclear doctrine and "revise and update it to make it relevant to challenges of current times."
Many analysts have interpreted this to mean that India will alter its long-standing policy of no-first use (NFU) of nuclear weapons, but the language of the BJP's manifesto, which had apparently been cleared by Modi himself, was quite moderate and clear.
Actually, the confusion was caused by Sheshadri Chari, the convenor of the BJP foreign policy cell and a member of the group that formulated this section of the party's manifesto, who reportedly said: "Why should we tie our hands into accepting a global no-first-use policy, as has been proposed by the Prime Minister [Manmohan Singh] recently?"
Centrist: Modi has indicated that his foreign policy will mirror that of the last BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Centrist: Modi has indicated that his foreign policy will mirror that of the last BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee


He was referring to Singh's remarks at a conference organised in early April by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses on a nuclear weapons free world.
Another angle to this was provided by former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, a faculty member of a think tank close to the BJP who said the manifesto commitment seemed to have been driven by the need to revise no-first-use in the light of "the increasing nuclear threat from Pakistan".
He also pointed out that countries like the US did not have a no-first-use policy, and that China did not even recognise India as a country that possessed nuclear weapons.
Not surprisingly, the manifesto reference had the non-proliferation ayatollahs around the world fulminating.
Their attitude was summed by the warning issued through an editorial in the New York Times, noting that, "The lack of clarity about the party's intentions on this[NFU] issue introduces more uncertainty into an already unstable region."

Clarity
Actually, there was never any ambiguity on the issue of Modi's attitude towards no-first  -use. On the occasion of the Nani Palkhivala lecture in Chennai in October 2013 Modi was explicit in backing NFU, by praising the Vajpayee's government's nuclear policy and its commitment to NFU.
So it is not surprising that last week, to end the speculation he declared in an interview to ANI that, "No-first-use was a great initiative of Atal Bihari Vajpayee - there is no compromise on that. We are very clear.
"No-first-use is a reflection of our cultural inheritance."
It is not surprising that there is so much speculation, some warranted, some not so, on what a Modi prime ministership would be like.


Modi has not been in Delhi since 2001 and even in the BJP hierarchy he has viewed as an outsider.
His economic perspective is not too difficult to determine since he has made it the centrepiece of his governance platform in the state. But in the area of foreign and security policy he offers a puzzle.
As of now, Modi has clearly indicated that his perspective is linked to that of the last BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which was centre of the road, if anything.
It is likely that in the area of foreign and security policies which are not easy to change overnight, Modi will rely on experienced players who have had a Delhi connect and are also close to or members of the BJP.
Expectations
It is an irony, perhaps, that in coming to rule Delhi, Modi is like the sultans of yore who came from across the Hindu Kush to rule India.
One feature of their rule was the constant haranguing of the ulema zealots pressing them to take a hard line against the Hindu masses.
But the cleverer sultans, at least, had a healthy sense of pragmatism and realised that they needed the cooperation of the people to sit securely on the throne.
By antagonising the people, all that they would get is rebellion and disorder.
As the new ruler of New Delhi, Modi's first goal, driven by the enormous expectations he has raised across the country, would be a stable administration which can get the economy up and running.
He will have to face the paradox of any person who wins an election - his clock will begin ticking immediately after the government takes office. But, the way things work, the very months in which he is assembling his team, will also be the honeymoon period in which it is easiest to take the most far-reaching decisions. 
Mail Today April 29, 2014

1 comment:

Hardik Sahani said...

Hi i am supporter of Narendra Modi because i am from gujarat i am not so supporter of BJP but yeah i respect for Atal Bihari Vajpee but not for Advani but anyways the blog is nice and the sharing media is also good.

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